David Clark Harrison, Harvard College AB ’59, Harvard Law School JD ‘63
What A Course in Miracles May Have to Offer Quantum Gravity
It’s never now here.
Just the future flipping instantly into the past.
Things and their implied opposites and variations must all exist.
Non-Being can’t be the opposite of anything.
Keys to understanding the origin and fate of the universe?
The meaning of life?
Clues to our cause?
A couple of book titles from quantum gravity do get one thinking:
Carlo Rovelli’s Reality Is Not What It Seems.
Adam Becker’s What Is Real?
Becker thinks physicists will find meaning in quantum mechanics.
That is, if they don’t give in to the “Copenhagen Interpretation.”
That says physics has reached the limits of what’s understandable.
He’s sure there’s a pony in there somewhere.
Einstein balked at his own invention and took issue with Bohr.
Bohr, the oracle of quantum mechanics, the mystic at the summit.
The soul of the Copenhagen Interpretation.
As hard to pin down as Hawking’s “quest for knowledge” was in your face.
Rovelli yields to the obvious and bows to the inevitable.
Unifying cosmology with quantum mechanics takes us into the unknown.
Quantum gravity is way over our heads.
This theoretical physicist thinks it’s time to bring in philosophy.
A line has been crossed.
We live in an interesting time.
Time now for quantitative to make room for qualitative?
For what’s necessary to find meaning in anything:
Mind, reason, feeling, and values?
Where physicists can’t take us.
They the consultants, we the clients.
Whose numbers can’t say what difference anything makes.
To those for whom the difference matters – all who live, suffer and die.
The measurers do have a stake in their profession.
Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and The Grand Design get that across.
In the time of Galileo, he could have made a convincing Urban VIII.
A Vatican hardliner bound by authority and his convictions.
Colonizing other planets is comic book science fiction.
An adolescent’s idea of purpose – our cause.
The fanciful offspring of thought unaided by reflection.
For Hawking it was true: “Philosophy is dead.”
What about the rest of us?
Can there be a story that has a place for reason, creative energy, love?
That leaves Matt Damon cultivating potatoes on Mars and gets serious?
That won’t condemn our grandchildren to scavenging on Earth?
Einstein figured out years ago it’s never Now in our universe.
Just an “extended present” which is “neither future nor past.”
Quantum gravity since discovered that it’s never Now anywhere.
Quanta, the particles that make up all matter, tell us time doesn’t exist.
Being is the Singularity if it has no opposite.
The Mind that is timelessness, the eternal Now.
Where there are no beginnings, no origins.
Just Being and just Now -- Reality!
Hope for us if it matters where we belong and are headed.
Because no one can turn off the switch.
No “disturbance in the force” can flip Something back to nothing.
Inquiry stops with the Singularity.
It stops with Mind whose being cannot imply an opposite.
Being is all that there is – one thing, everything, and nothing else.
We of the beginnings and endings, past and future, never Now.
Imagining things -- inside a Mind that’s dreaming.
Pure Reason when it was awake that took in an irrational thought.
A monkey wrench, the idea of separation.
We took aim at Being and knocked ourselves unconscious.
Separation is no more real than non-Being.
Not even in quantum gravity, where all matter is interconnected.
It’s all granular, indeterminate, and relational.
If they’re not connecting, interacting, quanta don’t exist.
It’s a roll of the dice which streetlight they show up under next.
Because they disappear in the darkness – they’re gone.
Faraday, using intuition, and Maxwell, using math, discovered fields.
Lines of matter, electromagnetic waves, that connect matter everywhere.
Where we get light from, telecommunications, electronics.
Information connects matter everywhere.
Show me anything that’s separate!
Separation is just a mad idea; the void that can’t exist.
Yet an irrational thought taken in by conscious Mind has consequences.
The thought that something is that isn’t, that can’t be.
A Mind that’s Reason can’t be itself and hold an irrational thought.
It will either reject the idea and hold onto sanity or lose consciousness.
The Mind in question is us, an extension of the original Mind.
Knowledge for whom separation is unknowable and therefore unthinkable.
We are an extension of Being – our source:
Mind-Love, Mind-Reason, Mind-Energy -- the grammar of Reality.
Innocence and perfection our birthright, our integrity.
Extended Mind that is part of Being cannot cease to exist.
Death is not real: we cannot die.
When corrupted, extended Mind will lapse into an unconscious state.
Mind-fear, Mind-guilt-insanity, Mind-entropy -- the grammar of unreality.
So that we could reciprocate Love, we were given freedom.
Freedom of thought, freedom of choice.
And we used it – what child wouldn’t? -- to do something dumb.
To make a mistake, which we now have to undo.
Mind even unconscious is real and so is Energy.
Hard to question our bodies’ senses since both are present in the dream.
Long ago, Parmenides and Bishop Berkeley saw through the deception.
They were overruled by Dr. Johnson when he kicked a solid object.
Science still rules the day with its virtual reality headset – our senses.
Even after Einstein’s equations replaced Newton’s familiar universe.
With a “glimpse of reality. . . that seems to be made of the same stuff our dreams are made of.”
This from Carlo Rovelli, pointing quantum gravity toward the unknown.
Toward philosophy and maybe weird metaphysical stuff.
That can’t be any weirder than quantum gravity.
All of science is part of a larger quest.
Not just Hawking’s “quest for knowledge.”
That he believed only science is qualified to lead.
The larger quest for Awakening that we are all qualified to lead.
Because the Mind that’s unconscious is our Mind.
The dream is ours, and every advance we make is toward ending it.
Every invention, discovery, revelation, and epiphany.
Toward returning home to Reality – to peace, truth, and sanity.
Toward healing the separation.
Harvard’s history department claims that “Ideas make history.”
The mad idea of separation got all of humanity in this fix.
Being taken in and letting go of the deception is our story.
One hell of a story caused by one hell of an idea.
Quantum gravity is giving us a start toward awakening.
By taking us to the outer limits of physics.
Newton’s comforting universe of absolutes left in its wake.
Its objects once behaving sensibly but no more.
We’re beyond the point of no return.
Physics won’t restore our familiar environment.
It won’t fix our stricken planet or find another to ruin.
It won’t reveal the meaning of life and give us purpose.
Or solve the origin and fate of the universe by studying matter.
When it’s Mind that needs our attention.
Brain science has yet to establish where consciousness comes from.
Mind poking into brains, globs of gray matter inside their carapace.
Looking for what’s inside Mind that’s doing the poking.
An image with a caption worthy of The Onion.
Mind is our consciousness, the extended Mind with which we think.
Our brains process data from our virtual reality headsets.
They’re data processors.
Colluding with our bodies to keep the illusion in place.
Our VR headset appears to be telling us what’s “out there.”
Our bodies’ senses affirming that our bodies and our universe are real.
When what it may be doing is blocking us.
From seeing what’s Here and Now.
Letting physics and anyone else tell us what it’s all about is a crap shoot.
Better to assume we are all Galileos and everyone else is the Pope.
Time to break up the monopoly of senses and numbers.
Come full circle back to all that Democritus and Aristotle had to work with:
Intuition and reason.
Before there were instruments of science to conduct experiments.
The gift of intuition that listens.
That hears guidance that comes not from a slumbering, delusional Mind.
But from Mind that’s awake.
Guidance that might be found in A Course in Miracles.
That doesn’t ask us to abandon reason for faith.
To abandon freedom of thought and freedom of choice.
Without which Love cannot be.
Guidance that doesn’t demand anything of us.
That we submit to the authority of any individual or institution.
Or obligate ourselves to add to its wealth.
That we subject our minds and bodies to symbolism of any kind.
Or to coercion, guilt, and punishment.
Guidance that doesn’t limit how and when we learn.
That asks its teachers to get out of the way.
That lets us choose whatever source speaks to us.
Whether it’s the Course or something else.
Because it’s not a “bible” – it’s taught in various ways.
Guidance that doesn’t ask us to hold opposing thoughts.
That Reality is Being -- Mind, Love, Reason, and Energy.
And non-Being, too -- separation, guilt, fear, insanity, and entropy.
That Reality is what we observe even though it comes from nowhere.
Changes, acts weird, and disappears like an illusionist’s act.
Guidance that won’t let appearances, magic, and confusion deceive us.
That won’t subject us to the cruelty of dogma and bullying “tradition.”
To the deceptions and hysterics of self-preservation.
To the predatory appetites of unrestrained authority.
To the mystique of the past, revered nothingness wrapped in gauze.
Guidance that responds to quantum gravity’s call for philosophy.
With the one attribute that our VR headset cannot provide: objectivity.
From the same place where quantum gravity is leading us.
To the only place where Reality can be found: Mind in the eternal Now.
Guidance that can explain the strange behavior of quanta.
Granular, indeterminate, relational.
The stuff our dreams are made of because they’re in a dream.
Because Reality is Mind, the laws of cause and effect that govern Mind.
And matter can only be a projection of Mind that’s in an unconscious state.
Its laws of cause and effect – science -- only a mirror image of Reality.
Guidance that shares its view of us honestly, in the light of day.
Affirming and unsparing, encouraging and challenging, never judging.
Respecting the free spirits we really are in spite of our adolescence.
Our addiction to Whatever, our littleness, and going our own way.
Guidance that assures us that we’re endowed with free will.
The opportunity to influence our fate with our own choices.
The necessity of choosing again, since it was our own mistake.
When we chose to reciprocate vengeance instead of Love.
And descended into a nightmare of guilt, fear, and insanity.
Ours is the lead role in this story, a long and perilous Odyssey.
Like the Greek veterans of Troy, we need and receive help.
To navigate past our counterfeit guides and our addictions.
We aren’t in control, but we have our part to do:
Take the initiative and mind our thoughts and choices.
Choices among guides, values, and purposes.
Guidance that enables us to relate to Being.
A sentient, accessible Who, not a scientist’s cardboard-cutout what.
To the Mind, Love, Reason, and Energy who endowed us with feeling.
Who gifted us with values -- things cared for and needed:
Spirit, beauty, purity and innocence.
Reason, enlightenment and sanity, purpose, self-worth and hope.
Love, family and intimacy, community, fairness and belonging.
Knowledge, wisdom and truth, learning, growth and achievement.
Health, wealth and abundance, order, security, protection and peace.
Freedom, joyfulness, creativity and spontaneity.
Celebrations and rewards of Love.
That needs to give and to receive, for we are part of the infinite loop.
Our honored place in Mind secured by being loved and needed.
By a Friend – by gentle, loving kindness.
Guidance that assures us we are not judged and condemned.
We are simply wanted back.
And the choice we are given, once again, is to reciprocate.
To let Love know we want back.
That the free spirits we are, are ready to exercise our birthright.
To change our minds, choose again, and correct our mistake.
We want back because relationships are to Make Happy.
And a world that incubates endless conflict isn’t where to find them.
A world that tempers every moment of joy and laughter with loss.
With the affront of suffering and death endured and sure to come.
My Guide flies me over the deep, blue, pure waters of Lake Parrish.
Shimmering beneath the moon and the stars.
Soaring free from the tyranny of blame.
A magnificent sorrel flying draft horse, my minder, companion, and escort.
Who ferries my son from the desolate hill to the other side.
The hill with the burning crucifix, his hands and feet nailed to it by blame.
Beneath a sky inflamed with the fires of hell.
A tableau of madness brought to horrifying life.
Owen, who was all-everything in school and made it to Harvard.
Who lost his mind to unbearable pain, fear, and impotent rage.
To grievances, abandonment, grief, and misery.
Who lost everything because he couldn’t relate.
Who lost hope, his career, then his mother, and checked out.
Alone, in his childhood home, with rooms empty and the mail piled up.
Owen’s memory tempers joy and laughter with my granddaughters.
And with their father, Andrew, my constancy and hope.
Their family the beacon at the strait that drew me off my island.
To retirement three years ago and grandparenting, my second childhood.
Our Guide is also present in the dream, imagined as we wish.
An emissary from consciousness, timelessness, and Reality.
Indispensable – we accomplish nothing on our own.
Sent to bring us along with insights and creative talent.
Character and resolve – all of our gifts.
So that we get it right and make it back home sooner rather than later.
Using our gifts, if we are so blessed.
Those of us who haven’t lost our precarious hold on survival.
Who yearn for peace, truth, and sanity.
And try not to listen to the counterfeit guide from unconscious Mind.
Who takes our children away.
Is the matter in our bodies all that connects us to our universe?
Or is there also a connection with Mind -- with our own thoughts?
Must Dr. Johnson be the last word, or can we do better?
Will philosophy add anything to quantum gravity?
Turn ambiguity, ambivalence, and confusion into a coherent story?
A worthy cause?
The author of A Course in Miracles must think so.
The visitor from Reality who inspired the Nag Hammadi texts.
Who lifted the stage drop of spacetime and matter.
With effortless miracles that bypassed our wavering laws of science.
Whose Gnostic “heretics” inspired Harvard’s Karen King.
To stand for Reason and open his story to the light of day.
Over the dead body of Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyon.
Crossing another historic line to heal an ancient wound.
The Gnostics got their name because of their point.
That we do not and cannot know anything in this illusory world.
We are descended from Knowledge but do not share in it.
How can anything be known inside a dream?
The Church celebrated miracles which proved the Illusion.
Only to unleash its fury on those who absorbed the lesson.
So that it could establish that the Church and our world are real.
That guilt, fear, and insanity must be real.
Or there is no need for the Church.
What then are miracles?
Thus stripped of their purpose: unfathomable mysteries of the divine.
All of one piece with the fanciful plot twists of Greek mythology.
Frivolous fairy tales. Religious mumbo-jumbo. Entertainment. Magic.
These the impurities that Hawking purged from his quest for knowledge.
The foolishness of biblical religion which has no place in science.
The master of black holes was drawn in by the Church.
Past the event horizon without noticing: that the founder is the scientist.
That miracles are his experiments, and they lead us to knowledge.
The laws of science fade away in quantum gravity.
Not to the unknown but to the Known: to Reality.
Its title is to be taken literally: A Course in Miracles.
Our world, a projection of unconscious Mind, makes miracles inevitable.
There is no order of difficulty in miracles.
For the author of the Course and for us.
When we finally see ourselves as he sees us.
As we love our children and grandchildren.
For their innocence and spontaneity.
Precious playmates in our Temenos, the sanctuary of trust and safety.
Secured for us within the Mind, the Love, that created us.
The Christ we were all supposed to be, uncorrupted.
Until the illusion of guilt was imposed upon us.
In service to stewardship that professed forgiveness.
And misperceived, choosing instead to preserve itself.
At the expense of our innocence, our reality, and its own faith.
Forgiveness is not a gratuitous dispensation to be granted to the unworthy.
Sinners all, wallowing in guilt.
It’s a simple acknowledgement that separation never happened.
That we didn’t replace our Parent.
That we are not condemned, because our Reality is innocence.
We, whose worth is beyond question, are blameless.
Background to the Gnostic heresy.
The discovery of its texts at Nag Hammadi, the end of another crucifixion.
The channeled Course in Miracles itself a miracle.
The resurrection of Gnostic Christianity that has no need of labels.
Only Mind and Energy creating and connecting through Love and Reason.
The grammar and idiom that I have chosen to share these thoughts.
Faithful, I hope, to the spirit of the Course but not always to the letter.
The author of the Course lives, and his work speaks for itself.
Quantum gravity leads us into another dimension for a reason.
Hawking’s quest for knowledge is more posture than promise.
All we can aspire to with our VR headsets are perceptions and beliefs.
Bound to be corrupted by the virus, separation.
Quantum gravity, the Nag Hammadi texts, and the Course all converge.
On the thought that the reality of our world, our life, is open to question.
Reason and intuition say so.
And now science may be saying so.
If he hadn’t kicked the bucket, even Dr. Johnson might say so.
All Are Called. Few Choose to Listen.
Titles of books written about the Course by its first teacher.
Maybe Reason in the Here and Now is buried yet in the sand.
The teacher of the texts quarantined by academia wary of religion.
But we can’t be sure when and how our Guide is reaching us.
Maybe many are choosing to listen.
My ballot was only one vote in the midterm elections.
Before it became millions of votes, and our country changed.
Knocking ourselves unconscious was Three Stooges stuff.
When we come to and exit this Vaudeville act, I’ll find time to laugh.
When, not if.
Because we can’t fail if awakening is Love’s will.
For our Parent to fail at anything is as nuts as separation.
I would share my Guide with you to Make Happy:
Respecting our freedom of thought instead of coercion and guilt.
Sharing abundance instead of hollowness.
Bestowing blamelessness instead of judgment and condemnation.
Focusing on the Here and Now and my own responsibilities.
Feeling, sharing, and celebrating thankfulness.
To my dear friends and colleagues from a lifetime:
Sunday school at Wallace Memorial United Presbyterian Church
Eight years at Greentree Public Grade School
Four years at Andover and seven more at Harvard.
One year at the San Gabriel Valley Daily Tribune
Eight in Cambridge, the City of Boston, and the Boston Harbor islands
Eight in Hanover and the Connecticut River Basin
Three in Washington, Chesapeake Bay, and national water policy
Two in St. Paul, Grand Forks, and the Red River Valley of the North
Eleven in Pittsburgh, Morgantown, and the Monongahela River Valley
Twelve in Boulder at StorageTek, EDS, and Boulder County Democrats
Eight in Aurora at Anthem and Kaiser’s Security Operations Center
One in retirement, writing and hiking in Crested Butte, Colorado
Two years so far writing and grandparenting in the South Bay, Los Angeles
And to all my family: you are my happiness.
I love you. I will always love you.
I will never leave you – even if I could.